Rugby News & Views From an American Perspective
by Ted Hardy
James Carlberg should be a household name in the American rugby community right up there with popular Eagles players Todd Clever, Paul Emerick, or the viral internet speedster Carlin Isles. In fact, when it is all said and done, Carlberg may very well go down as one of the most important people in the history of American rugby. Carlberg’s battle against Ralph Lauren over the use of the rugby brand is well documented and is the ultimate “David vs. Goliath” story.
Just like in the bible… David won. Well, in this case his name is James. This is a story that should be passed down through generations of American rugby players in order to never be forgotten.
“When someone the size of PRL goes after a little guy like me, it is HELL. All time stops,” said Carlberg. “No growth, you cannot borrow money and you have no where to turn… 99% of people would just roll over & die.”
Those words hold true as over the years Ralph Lauren pounded other companies into submission in regards to the use of the word Rugby in print.
“PRL was positioning themselves to monopolize our sport,” added Carlberg. “They know it is growing at an exponential rate and they wanted to make sure ANYTHING that had the word RUGBY printed on it in the US, had to go through them. They even attempted this over in Europe and with the IRB. They (the IRB) didn’t back down either. But companies like Old Navy and others, did get knocked out. I’m still here!”
Were it not for Carlberg’s stand, we’d all have to pay homage to Ralph Lauren every time we stepped on the pitch. Which would have truly been a sad and ironic twist that a game, known for honor and played by men and women of fortitude, would become synonymous with a brand known for unsavory business practices and a clothes line that wouldn’t withstand 10 minutes of youth rugby.
With all of the coverage and praise Carlberg has received for taking on Ralph Lauren’s harem of lawyers, Carlberg remains unphased, grounded, and continues to move forward doing what he loves.
In 2011 Carlberg joined forces with Rhino Rugby to create Rhino Rugby USA. Not only has this agreement helped make Rhino products more accessible in the United States, the Rhino line of premium scrum sleds are licensed and being built right here in the USA.
Made in America scrum sleds… did you ever think you would see the day?
If he wasn’t already busy enough, Carlberg recently revamped and launched a new and improved Liquid Rugby website. Liquid Rugby has been in the business of designing & screen printing rugby t-shirts, sublimating custom rugby jerseys & decorating rugby apparel for rugby clubs and events from all over the world since 1981. In their over 30 years of business, Carlberg’s Liquid Rugby/Rugby America (no relation) line has sold more than 1 million t-shirts worldwide.
“The rugby t-shirt & jersey business keep us pretty busy and the Rhino line is growing at a nice steady pace. The more Rhino sleds, equipment & gear we get scattered across the USA, the better it will advertise itself,” says Carlberg.
If building the Rhino USA brand and making t-shirts wasn’t already enough rugby for Carlberg, he even helped coach the Springfield Junior Celts high school team to the Illinois State Tier 3 Championship game.
“Two years ago we lost every match. Last year 5th in the state and this year our only loss was the in the Championship match. The Junior Celts have came a LONG way,” finished Carlberg.
A jack of all trades, James Carlberg has been to hell and back all in the name of rugby. Now that the ordeal is beginning to fade into the rearview mirror, Carlberg keeps moving forward.
How many of us would have endured and came out on the other side charged and ready for the next chapter?
To see the revamped Liquid Rugby website, please go to http://www.liquidrugby.com
To visit Rhino Rugby USA, please go to http://rhinorugbyusa.com